Classifieds Website Backpage Shut Down by Feds After Sex Trafficking Investigation

Government seizes Backpage.com, more information forthcoming

Backpage Appears To Have Been Taken Down And Advertisers Aren't Happy

The banner says, "backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized as part of an enforcement action" by the FBI, US Postal Inspection Service and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department confirmed to CNN that the website has been seized and that additional information would be made available Friday evening.

Backpage.com is accused by its critics of being the biggest website for prostitution in the world, with its classifieds used to promote paid-for sex with minors and the victims of human trafficking.

Last calendar year, a coalition of state and territorial attorneys overall questioned Congress to make it a lot easier for state and local law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute on the web facilitators of child sex trafficking.

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But its most lucrative service is in sex, with listings for adult escorts and other sex services.

CoStar, a US company that runs Apartments.com, accidentally uncovered in July of past year that Backpage had used a Philippines-based company named Avion to grow business in overseas sex trade.

A Judge in California in 2016 threw out charges that Lacey and Ferrer acted as virtual pimps by hosting prostitution ads on the website, and that the site was protected under the First Amendment. Last year, the website blamed years of pressure from the United States government as the reason it shut down its adult ads category.

Two days after the Senate approval, Backpage competitor Craigslist removed its personal ads section.

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Backpage founder Michael Lacy had his home raided by the FBI's Phoenix branch earlier on Friday, according to 3TV/CBS 5. Federal Bureau of Investigation officials in Phoenix confirmed earlier on Friday that they had raided Lacey's home.

A representative from Backpage could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Cindy McCain, the wife of Arizona Sen. "Now no child will be sold for sex through this website", tweeted Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

"It is obvious to anyone who bothers to listen to sex workers that the seizing of backpage will not end the sex trade, but only serve to make it more risky", Page tweeted.

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